Posted in School governance, School Leadership, Self-Care

Seclude/Restrain and Other Pointless Forms of Discipline in Schools

[Image: eighteen wooden, red-tipped matches are lined up in a semi-circle (that presumably continues outside the frame) against a black background. The eighth match from the right is lit] image from Pixabay]
Not again.

We have a school district not too far away that keeps doing things that make no sense.

A few years ago, this district had a situation where the principal decided a meltdown didn’t end fast enough and she sat on an elementary student’s legs and held him down so she could, in her eyes, force the meltdown to “peak” so it could end faster.  That was about 2.5 years ago.

Last month, the district decided to hit the news again.  This time, a young child (this district only has grades K-3 in these schools, so these are little elementary kids besides) took one of the other students’ play-doh and decided to throw it at people.  The teacher called in the principal when the kid wouldn’t give it back, and the principal dragged the child down the hall and put him in a closet.  Okay, now it’s a “time out” space, but it was effectively built to be a closet, so…it’s a freaking closet.

For throwing play-doh.

Continue reading “Seclude/Restrain and Other Pointless Forms of Discipline in Schools”

Posted in Advocacy

The Lady at Guadalupe: Permission to Be Yourself

If you don’t know anything about apparitions of Mary, you may not know about some powerful stories.  Inevitably, the “certified” visions appear only to children or people who have no power in society.  As an example, Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to a young girl who was illiterate, yet was able to repeat what the lady said, that she was the “Immaculate Conception.”  There was no way that young Bernadette, far removed from the theologians of her day, could possibly have known they were all kicking around the idea of Mary’s immaculate conception and whether or not it was true.  No one in the village really knew about that going on.  Later, in Fatima, Portugal, “a lady” appeared to three shepherd children.  One day, she made the sun dance.  The weirdest part about the sun dancing was that not everyone there saw it, which seemed to make it even more believable as divine (Bible stories inevitably have unbelievers seem to not see a thing).

But the big common denominator inevitably is: a silenced voice sees a lady (the viewer or viewers rarely call her Mary, but eventually they figure it out or someone else will eventually decide it is she).

Today is the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Americas (not just Mexico, as some might believe).

Continue reading “The Lady at Guadalupe: Permission to Be Yourself”

Posted in Advocacy, Neurodiversity

Boycott To Siri Update

Thanks for all the visits recently in the wake of #BoycottToSiri.  I’m so humbled by the neurotypical allies joining us, and even more humbled to hear my words are being used in this movement.

Have a look at our hero, Amethyst Shaber, who posted video message to understand the movement and how you can help http://autismgazette.com/videos/videoamythest-schaber-boycotttosiri/.

 

Next, head to this review by the amazing Kaelan Rhywiol if you want to understand the specific problems of the book: https://twitter.com/kaelanrhy/status/936307207968137216

 

 

 

Posted in Advocacy

neurotypicals Are Very Odd Creatures: Watching Survivor to Analyze Neurotypicality

So, a long time ago, when the television show Survivor first came out, I watched it and was utterly fascinated.  The main thing I loved about it was watching Richard Hatch play a game no one else yet understood was the actual game of the show and (spoiler alert) be rewarded with a million dollars.

[A blue piranha with red stomach is hidden in some underwater grass. Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor, pointed out that a bigger fish can take your finger off with one bite. Image from Pixabay]
If you don’t know the game, the gist is they strand people on an island in two groups and early on, the way you get power is by winning challenges, many of which are physical, which can be a real problem due to (as the show goes on) less and less food being available to you unless you’re good at finding it on your own.  There are mental challenges, too, but these get hard given the lack of food as well.  The trick is to figure out how to stay healthy physically so you can compete physically and mentally.  When there are too few people to have two separate groups, they merge them together and the challenges become individual.  If you get “immunity,” the others can’t get rid of you by voting you out, but almost all of the people who are there after the merge then become a jury who decide who wins the million at the end, so if you’re too devious in your scheming, it will cost you.  Maybe.

Anyway, when the game first started, the original group had literally no idea what the game was, so it was relatively easy for Hatch to create a core alliance and use it to have an effective voting bloc to ensure that what he thought, strategically, would be the best thing to do, he was able to actually carry out.

Fast-forward to the season I just finished, season 6 (I only really watched the first, some of the celebrity edition, and the all-star season, so I’m watching old ones).  I was incensed this season, more than before, and it made me think about the “pretty people” vs. the rest of us and what all this means for society.

Continue reading “neurotypicals Are Very Odd Creatures: Watching Survivor to Analyze Neurotypicality”

Posted in Advocacy, Autistic Identity

I Wish I Could Say I’m Aspergian: Why We Have to Join Up “For the Team”

Every so often, you’ll meet an Autistic who insists on saying that he or she has Asperger’s Syndrome.  That term has been removed from the diagnostic manual because people OTHER than us decided on Autistic being the blanket term.  While there’s good and bad in that, the gist of the reasoning was that those who got the Asperger’s label weren’t getting help, so it was better to call us all Autistic.

That was remarkably helpful of the medical establishment, which is sort of rare.

But had I been in the meeting, I would have said, “Can’t we both be Asperger’s Syndrome, instead?”

But since Asperger’s ONLY (to them) meant “high-functioning,” to ask that question would be tantamount to saying that I wanted to erase the “low-functioning” people from existence.  I don’t believe in functioning labels, but if I DID, I need to support my Neurosiblings who have been considered “low-functioning” first.  As such, I have to bury Asperger’s Syndrome.

Which is sad, I think.

Continue reading “I Wish I Could Say I’m Aspergian: Why We Have to Join Up “For the Team””

Posted in Autistic Identity, Parenting, School governance, School Leadership

Autistics Make GREAT Moms

This post should be about how much I am insightful about my child’s needs, judging from the title.  And I believe I am good at that sort of thing.  However, this post is not that.  Instead, because I was asked if I was another person’s mother multiple times yesterday, I thought this would be far more interesting to talk about, given the current Autistic community speaking out about being great parents in the wake of #BoycottToSiri.

As the setup to this story, I have a lone 8th grader.  He’s pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, and part of why he’s amazing is how much progress he’s made in the last year and a bit since I came to this school.  He used to be very silent, especially around adults, and took a very long time to read.  His work was adequate at best and he seemed to be behind grade level.

This year, he’s at grade level and can explain things better than most 8th graders in other schools (since we have no basis for comparison here, we have to look elsewhere; this is probably a good thing and less stressful for him anyway).

Because we have a large developmental gap between him and my next youngest student who fits in best with the 4th/5th graders, he likes to work in the office.  This works out fine because 1) we get another person to answer the doorbell, 2) I can teach him in between my work, if he needs it, which frees up the one-room schoolhouse, and 3) we can, when we’re both stressed play Uno or Yu-Gui-Oh, or what have you.  He’s seemed to move along even faster, academically, since now he can choose the order he does things in (being mindful about what time I have that’s free to teach), and he still joins the rest of the class for meals, gym, and art.  He even DIRECTS gym now, teaching the other kids games that country school kids used to play years ago like “Ghosts in the graveyard.”  He learned about this game online.

So, this is my 8th grader, and because there IS such a gap between him and the others, and because he’s going to have learned as much as he can, being in the office with us, he wants to go to another school next year, and we found a charter that is project-based and quite small, with lots of quirky students he should fit in great with.

SO…here’s the story.

Continue reading “Autistics Make GREAT Moms”

Posted in Autistic Identity, Catholic education, Catholic leadership, higher education, Identity, writing

Goodbye, Academia (Again)

[Image: A brick wall has been broken down and the foreground has some debris that’s difficult to make out. There is a large, green coniferous tree standing directly in front of the opening. It is sunny outside. A mist hides some of what is beyond, but the world outside seems welcoming.]
If you follow me regularly, you’ll know that I’ve recently been conflicted about whether to focus my non-school related energy on pursuing an Ed.D. or focusing on my writing.  You may also remember, I’ve got all the Ph.D. courses necessary for a Ph.D. in Education or Library and Information Science, but I left the path to the ivory tower because of a lack of support.

The little voice in me finally started to speak; actually, she screamed during this #BoycottToSiri saga that’s been going on lately.

The little voice that is me had already been complaining considerably while I was writing my paper to end the semester.  I knocked the thing out pretty quickly and it’s fine; it answered my questions, and I did okay.  But I hated every minute of writing that academic paper.

Here’s what I learned about myself.

Continue reading “Goodbye, Academia (Again)”

Posted in Advocacy, intersectionality

It seems no one cares…#BoycottToSiri

It’s very difficult to watch the BoycottToSiri protest that I mentioned last week go, effectively, nowhere.

Autistic Twitter is a pretty darned intersectional place.  We talk about race, gender, sexuality, and the larger group of disability.  We rarely talk much about religion, but people haven’t gotten all upset with me because I do, and someone probably should address religion, so I and a few others fill the quieter space for that.  We fight with each other sometimes, because it’s hard to unlearn a lot of old stereotypes we learned before we realized we used to fight back against them before we were taught the social rule of “you must do x or you are a bad person.”

Anyway, my point is, other than some fabulous parents of Autistics who are truly interested in hearing our voices (by the way, thanks for this, parents!), I maybe only saw one Disabled activist who wasn’t Autistic talking about it (there probably were many more, but some of the people on my own Twitter list seemed strangely silent, and it didn’t come up in the intersectional spaces I’d imagine it ought to have.

Because, remember, we’re talking about forced sterilization of a Disabled person without his consent.

Unfortunately, all this was going on at the same time the U.S. government was passing this huge taxbill which is, well, not good.  And, unfortunately, a lot of people only had so many spoons and it was overwhelming.

I get that.

I also get the reality that Disabled people in general are used to the idea that people talking about their bodies and what to do about them is status quo.  It’s still wrong, but it’s so very much a part of their everyday existence that it’s like when Black people ignore a race-based protest.  To them, it’s another Wednesday or whatever, but us privileged folk (and so often, Disabled twitter writers can pass as Neurotypical) are incensed because we see this as unusual.  That’s another reason why, I think, the bigger Disability community didn’t get upset with us.

There’s another double-edged sword here.  I am still waiting to hear back from an agent about representation, and she did mention she does look for people who won’t go offending a huge audience.  This is the reality of life as we live it: gatekeepers want people who don’t get upset when another author publishes her work, or at least, we can get angry if and only if everyone else is angry, too.  A huge Trump protest?  Fine…you’ve got numbers.  This sort of thing?  What am I trying to do, piss off one of the big six publishers?

So, there’s that, too.  And that’s also why I didn’t volunteer that I had this blog and Twitter account.

But I’m Autistic and I was never really good at the social rule that said you shut up when you see or hear about oppression.  It may have taken me years to get awoken to all the oppression around me (and I’m still learning and still making mistakes), but once I knew it was oppression, there I was, speaking up.

It hurts me too much not to speak up.

And this is what the lived reality is about being an Autistic, in general.

There are a few of us who are ridiculously nice; they do a better job at passing in intersectional places.  There are tokens in every community, and I guess I shouldn’t criticize them.

But this hurts.  The people who have the privilege of standing with us haven’t come.

Is it because their spoon drawers are depleted?  Is it because they don’t know or don’t care?

Or is it they believe we should, in fact, be treated in this way?

 

Posted in Advocacy

STAY IN YOUR LANE: #BoycottToSiri

Yesterday, I wrote about how real advocates correct their negative behaviors when they are corrected by others.  How, when you are an advocate (or want to believe yourself to be an advocate), you apologize and try to learn from what’s going on.  What mistake did you make?  How can you make it better?

What you don’t do is get into a fight with the advocate who is trying to help educate you on the harm you’re doing.

If you’re not on Autistic Twitter, you might not know that Autistic advocate Amethyst Shaber, a fantastic advocate, found out that they were referenced in a book called To Siri With Love.  It’s published by HarperCollins, a major publisher, and written by Judith Newman, mother to an Autistic and standard variety “my life sucks because my kid has autism” variety.

The author called Amethyst (who prefers they/them pronouns, and tells you so outright) a girl, and misconstrued Amethyst’s identity, using what the author believed would be a flattering description, but was actually quite condescending.  At no point does the author reach out to Amethyst, but she (the author) uses Amethyst’s work in the book and twists it so it’s not quite right.  In this way, the author apparently thinks that she herself is being helpful, but in reality, when the author presented Amethyst’s work in that way, Newman was not.  Amethyst looks into it and is concerned about the use of Autism Speaks as a reference in the book as well.

Amethyst objected, the author said “sorry” and she’d update it “in the next edition.”

The author was condescending.

Amethyst and other advocates actually start looking into the book and find passages that are eugenicist in nature including the author’s desire to have power of attorney over her son so she can get him sterilized when he comes of age.

Autistic Twitter explodes.

The standard trolls come out of the woodwork to defend this book and the author, not understanding what she’s actually did and why it’s so morally repugnant.

The author keeps saying snarky things, condescending things.

SHE WILL NOT GET INTO HER LANE NOR WILL SHE APOLOGIZE, SINCERELY, AND WORK TO MAKE AMENDS.

Check out #BoycottToSiri for the details.

Oh, and this goes without saying, DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK.  The author and publisher ought not to profit when they were given a chance to do the right thing, and chose, instead, to show what kinds of negative people are involved with this book.

 

 

Posted in Advocacy, intersectionality

Stay in Your Lane: How to Feel Empowered, Not Insulted If You Are Given This Invitation

The expression, “stay in your lane,” is getting increasingly common among Disability activists.

The term is a reference to driving, and if you veer all over the road, you’ll end up hurting the other drivers.  In addition, it points out that you don’t own the whole road; others have a right to use the road as much as you do.

Often, we say it to parent activists and other busybodies who can only speak about their personal experiences, and suddenly, they’re swerving over to talk about the Autistic experience or the experiences of another Disabled person.  It’s also used in issues of race or class or religion.  Basically, anything that is deeply personal, about which only someone who has lived the experience, can really testify about.

If someone witnesses you talking about a life experience that you do not actually live for yourself, it’s possible an activist will tell you to “stay in your lane.”

When you hear that, you might get offended.  You might try to respond that you have as much rights as anyone else to speak your truth.  You’ve seen Muslim people, Autistic people, Disabled people, Black people, whatever you’re talking about, and so somehow you know the experience.

Seeing something and even living beside someone does not guarantee that you know the experience.  Sure, you might understand things a little better than someone who has never lived with a Disabled person (etc.), but that doesn’t mean you belong in their lane, so to speak.

But that’s okay.

Let me tell you about something that will help you feel a little better if someone tells you to, “stay in your lane.”

Continue reading “Stay in Your Lane: How to Feel Empowered, Not Insulted If You Are Given This Invitation”